Recently, we have seen Cryptic trying to revitalize Queues (rebranded into TFOs). So, I thought real hard why I don't get myself into some of the TFOs, and when I ran out of thoughts, asked several of my friends to share their opinions too. So while some parts of my post and criticisms are not exactly my own personal thoughts, they are absolutely a concern shared by multiple people in game.
And actually, it really boils down to that most of the offerings in game are just repetitive, tedious and sometimes downright annoying after multiple times of playing. Rewards, as they currently are, are more of a mid-tier problem, since while obviously players are driven to queues that give out the most rewards for least effort, ultimately it doesn't start to matter once you have solid fleet of Admirality ships to get your daily dil and thousands of marks just waiting in your Assets tab. Rewards surely play their part, but I don't want to discuss those in this post - it's about mission designs themselves.
So, apart from poor rewards, what makes the queues so unappealing? Mostly timegates, or bad mechanics. All of the popular queues (sans Swarm, but I predict it will die down soon) are totally case of "how good team is" = "how fast you complete the mission". There's no senseless waiting or at worst cases trying to fight the game rather than NPCs. But that's minority of the queues in game.
Rather, so many queues in game have timers that you simply have to wait to run out, before you either progress to next stage or mission can end. Even worse, that horrible practice has also crept into latest storyline missions. And the mandatory timers are not just annoying, they are also anti-immersive. As one of my friends said: "if a fleet is invading, they don't gain more ships just because you can kill them extra fast;
or realistically they wouldn't, anyway". Yet we see this practice in so many queues today. And at the same time, it doesn't give you any incentive to play well, cause you know the mission will be over in X minutes anyway.
Another extremely annoying feature is how either being shot at or shooting yourself completely breaks almost every interaction on missions, whether it is closing a portal, transport or whatever. Thus, an incredibly good QoL change would be if at least being shot at wouldn’t cancel said interactions. Said mechanic feels just to be thrown in to annoy the hell out of everyone, while actually not adding a layer of challenge.
Thus, I, with a little help from my friends, compiled a list of worst offenders, and thought what might be good ideas to perhaps revitalize those. I'm not saying that all of my suggestions are perfect, but something needs to change and just complaining and yelling "fix it now!!!" while not offering anything at all didn't seem very right thing to do either. Also, I apologize if I left something important out, but it's open forum, you readers can always add your own thoughts.Assault on Terok Nor
– console sequence is unintuitive, there's no real indication which consoles might be the right ones, so it becomes mindless running around and pressing F. Also other players can mess up your progress.Possible fix
: Keep 3 consoles only you need to activate in correct sequence, and mission progresses as soon as one player gets it right. Activating wrong console resets sequence only for that player, not for the entire team.Alternative possible fix
: If a logic puzzle is absolutely needed, maybe replace the console run with something similar to Quark’s Lucky Seven (where Rom hacks Odo’s computer), that only 1 person needs to complete.Azure Nebula Rescue
– ideally, it’s 12 minutes of doing exactly the same stuff, and the reward is only determined by luck - not very good mission design if you ask me. Current state is doing something for 3 minutes and waiting 9 for nothing to happen - it's horribly bugged and needs to be fixed ASAP.Possible fix
: there are 4 asteroid bases, and 4 classes of ships to be rescued. Assign one ship to each base and have the mission to end as soon as you’ve rescued 2 ships from each class. Autofail when you don’t manage to do so in 12 minutes.Battle of Procyon 5
– same TRIBBLE 3 times in a row. I know you wanted to make it look like the actual “battle of Procyon 5”, but it just feels so dumb and unappealing.Possible fix
: Cut parts 1 and 2 entirely and change the interaction mechanic per my interaction paragraph in this post, and it could possibly become one of my favourite missions in game.Binary Circuit
– mission is absolutely awesome, but the race mechanic between 2 teams (for some unexplained reason) + required amount of 10 players can be offputting.Possible fix
: Make it a single team, 5 player mission.Borg DisconnectedPossible fix
: Make the stage progress as soon as the team manages to save 15 disconnected Borg vessels.Counterpoint
– actually, this mission doesn’t seem to have a big problem with getting players, so probably not a big priority, but for QoL improvement…Possible fix
: Have the mission autoprogress as soon as the team has closed 5 portals and transported 15 troops.Days of Doom
– I know it’s integral part of the mission, so I have a hard time of coming up with a meaningful change, but 10 minutes of waiting until Scotty finishes his core is incredibly unpopular among large part of players.Dranuur Gauntlet
– this would be a fun mission, but it suffers from what's possibly the worst execution in the game. Killing enemies faster just means enemies spawn faster and you get TRIBBLE faster. And the mobs move right to and past the satellites and will spawncamp the players, and when you're not quick enough, they'll spawn more waves whether or not you finished the current one.
Special comment from a tank friend: tanking doesn’t help at all, it's impossible to draw fire away from defense satellites.Possible fix
: Fix the aggro and design the mission to autoprogress as soon as you’ve cleared X number of enemy groups. Fix the respawn location so that players aren’t under fire from all three groups as they re-enter. And make it possible to heal the defense satellites.Gateway to GrethorPossible fix
: mission progresses to boss stage as soon as 15 transports get through. Autofail when they don’t after allocated time.Herald SpherePossible fix
: Stage 2 progresses as soon as you kill 5 Herald attack groups. Autofail when you can’t do it in 4 minutes or when 15 ships get through. Stage 3 - fix the bug with command ships and have it autoprogress as soon as you kill 1, maybe 2 groups of herald forces.Link to bugStorming the Spire
– probably my personal favourite mission, but so many of my friends are complaing about timegates, so here goes.Possible fix
: Mission autoprogresses as soon as you get 50% control of the spire. Autofail when you fail to do that in 10 minutes or when Voth get more than 150 troops.Swarm
- 3rd stage is too long and gets repetitive.Possible fix
: Mission autocompletes when X number of transports get through.Undine Infiltration
– mission was very popular until the fire extinguish mechanic was changed and turned into an incredibly bugged state.Possible fix
: Revert it back to the previous state.